The weight loss industry is full of misinformation and confusion. Women are being advised to do all sorts of crazy things, some of which do not make sense and most of which do not work. Over the years, however, scientists have found a number of weight loss strategies that seem to be effective. Here are 12 weight loss tips that are actually proven to work to flatten your belly and reduce your weight overall.
1. Reduce salt intake
Salt, in moderation, is a good thing—the mineral is necessary for a healthy heart and brain. But too much salt and you’ll retain water, bloating up like a water balloon. Cutting salt is one of the primary ways to drop extra water weight (one reason you may see a big weight loss when starting a new diet!). Move the salt shaker off your table so you’ll get out of the habit of routinely salting all your food. Then if you taste your food and still really want salt you can still stand up and get some.
2. Drink more water
Drinking water can boost metabolism by 30%, helping you burn off a few more calories. A recent study showed that drinking a half litre of water about a half an hour before meals helped dieters eat fewer calories and lose 52% more weight.
3. Tame your sweet cravings
Sugary treats, while obviously delicious, aren’t very good for our bodies—and that includes our tummies. Not only do they dramatically add to our overall calories count, they also add inches to our waistlines—bottomline, sugar overload leads to insulin resistance, which tells the body to store extra fat around the waist. Sugar also bloats your tummy in the short-term by feeding the bad bacteria in your gut, leading to extra gas. When it comes to losing weight and flattening your belly, nixing sugar is one of the best things you can do.
4. Go to bed earlier
Americans are getting less sleep than ever these days and it’s taking a toll on our health—most visibly on our waistlines. Losing just 30 minutes of sleep per night can make you gain weight, according to a study done by the University of Toronto. What’s worse – the excess weight is more likely to go straight to your tummy. Researchers found that the best sleep cycle is one that follows your natural circadian rhythm, which means sleeping and waking around the same time as the sun.
5. Cut out ALL processed foods
Processed foods are one of the biggest sources of salt in Americans’ diets—and the scary part is you probably don’t even realize it. Because of the way these addictive foods are formulated, salt is hidden in everything from soups to pasta sauces to even sweet things like boxed cakes. Swap out processed foods in favor of fresh fare and your tummy will thank you. Not only will you lose the salt-bloat but you’ll also lose the extra empty calories and lose weight.
6. Learn to de-stress
Stress skyrockets your levels of cortisol, often called “the belly fat” hormone because it signals to the body to store fat around your waist. Add the daily stressors of living our modern lifestyle and you can see how cortisol can be constantly coursing through your veins. This perma-stress mode isn’t good for a lot of healthy reasons, your tummy being just one of them, so it’s important to take time every day to de-stress. Yoga, meditation, walking, journaling, doing a hands-on hobby, or playing a musical instrument are all great time-tested methods.
7. Eat more fiber
Fibrous foods are as close to a “miracle weight loss pill” as we have. Fruits, vegetables, and whole grains, particularly those high in soluble fiber, have been proven to reduce fat, especially around your midsection. In addition, these foods fill you up so you eat less, flattening your stomach over time.
8. Keep healthy snacks around
Keeping healthy food close by can help prevent you from eating something unhealthy if you become excessively hungry. A few snacks that are easily portable and simple to prepare include whole fruits, a handful of nuts, baby carrots, yogurt and a hardboiled egg.
9. Make your food spicy
Spicy foods like Cayenne pepper contain Capsaicin, a compound that can boost metabolism and reduce your appetite so you eat less.
10. Lift weights
One of the worst side effects of dieting, is that it tends to cause muscle loss and metabolic slowdown, often referred to as starvation mode. The best way to prevent this from happening is to do some sort of resistance exercise, like lifting weights. Studies show that weight lifting can help keep your metabolism high, and prevent you from losing precious muscle mass. Of course, it’s not just important to lose fat. You also want to make sure that what is beneath looks good. Doing some sort of resistance exercise is critical for that.
11. Eat more protein
Protein is the single most important nutrient when it comes to losing weight. Eating a high protein diet has been shown to boost metabolism by 80 to 100 calories per day, while helping you feel so satiated that you eat up to 441 fewer calories per day.
Simply adding protein to your diet (without restricting anything) is one of the easiest, most effective and most delicious ways to lose weight.